Lieutenant-Colonel Angus Southwood, officer involved in a secret Cold War reconnaissance operation – obituary

Angus Howard Southwood was born in Taunton, Somerset, on September 4, 1929. His father had left school when he was 12 after, he admitted, truancy for seven years. He became an estate agent and mayor of Taunton.

Young Angus was educated at nearby Wellington School before being called up for national service. He did his basic training, driving tanks at Camp Catterick, and went to RMA Sandhurst.

He served as a troop leader with the 5th Royal Tank Regiment in Germany and later in Korea soon after the end of the conflict. He then took a two-year Russian language course at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies at the University of London before moving to Paris and staying with a Russian-speaking family.

He transferred to the Intelligence Corps and was assigned to the 1st Wireless Regiment, Royal Corps of Signals, on the German-Dutch border. He led the Voice Interception Section, a unit responsible for listening around the clock for radio traffic from Soviet forces in East Germany. Tactical information was passed to HQ BAOR and other intelligence to GCHQ.

Three staff appointments on assignment to the Intelligence Corps followed; first at 24th Infantry Brigade HQ in Nairobi, Kenya, then at 2nd Infantry Brigade HQ in Plymouth, and finally as a warrant officer at Intelligence Corps HQ in West Germany .

Southwood taught at the School of Military Intelligence, Ashford, Kent from 1961 to 1963. He conducted courses for unit instructors of all three services. Some of the exercises conducted with members of the special forces involved capturing “escapees”, taking them to an interrogation center run along communist lines and subjecting them to rigorous interrogation. This included practices like hooding, sleep deprivation, and time disorientation.

Three years at the Ministry of Defense were followed by his posting to Brixmis. Despite many areas being closed off and increased tailing and harassment by East German police, he managed to cover a wide range of targets, many of which were extremely difficult to approach.

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